Ceviche in Lima

Our time in Lima was short and I spent most of it in bed unfortunately due to a terrible cold I caught at our hostel in Cusco. We stayed outside of the city proper in Miraflores, a wealthy neighborhood technically considered to be a suburb. A walk along the beach revealed a strange hybrid of highway and sand that was quite uninviting. So why is Lima known for their close proximity to the ocean? One word: Ceviche. This incredible dish is one of my favorites and originates in Lima. Limeños, people from Lima, indulge in long ceviche lunches and we were fortunate enough to join them on our last day in town. Ceviche is a dish composed of raw fish cooked in the acids from lime and sometimes lemons. Limes are in abundance in Peru where Pisco sours and ceviche originated. The small round limes are sold in giant bags and can be found in most hostel fridges it seems. We dined at La Mar which is said to be the best place to enjoy ceviche in Lima. We ordered the sampling ceviche composed of small dishes of several different types. I had no idea ceviche came in so many shapes and colors and such a range of complex flavors. From squid in an Aji pepper marinade to red tuna with seaweed and soy, they were all delicious and unique. Truly a tasty way to end a quick visit to Lima!


Adventures in Peruvian Wonderland

Crossing the Bolivian border into Peru has provided us with even more incredible experiences and sights. Cusco, the oldest city in the Americas is located in a valley filled with stucco houses with Spanish tiled red roofs, gorgeous ornate churches and Incan ruins. Truly a hybrid city, ancient Incan stone walls provide the foundation for narrow alleys filled with old ladies in brightly colored skirts carrying days old baby llamas while Spanish colonial style wooden balconies seat chic and bohemian travelers sipping coffee and pisco sours over the Plaza de Armas. The city spirals outwards into the surrounding rolling hills, a winding, steep oasis in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. I had no idea so much Incan architecture amd influence would still be so prevalant centuries after being conquered by the Spaniards. However, the Incan spirit is still strong even if there are no remaining Natives in the land. The rainbow flag symbolizing Pacha Mama, Mother Earth, and her abundance provided to them is still central to the culture. Most street vendors know their stuff about the Incas and their traditions, the gods they worshipped, their animal symbolism, and their pottery. It is with mixed feelings that one encounters this rich history of beliefs while remembering that they were brutally destroyed during the Spanish Inquisition. After a few days of wandering into art galleries and studios, watching craftsman make gorgeous string instruments and resting in the tranquil parks, we got ready for the epic trek to Machu Picchu.

Rather than spend an extravagant amount of money on the Inca trail, we opted for the do it ourselves route which proved to be quite rewarding. After a six hour bus ride to Santa Maria, we got in a packed taxi and drove through the jungle cloud forest along cliffs and over waterfalls before being dropped off at the edge of a cliff with rapids gushing below. We hopped on a tiny cable cart and were propelled across the water to the other side where we hoped to rush and catch a train to Aguas Calientes. We missed the train which resulted in trekking in the jungle at night for three and a half hours along the train tracks, often walking from track to track over large gaps with only rapids to catch us below. We emerged sticky and tired in Aguas Calientes starving and covered in bites. The next morning we began hiking up to Machi Picchu around 5 AM. It was still dark and our muscles ached from the previous night, but I was determined to reach the top before the buses full of tourists arrived at the top. The stairs were ancient, steep and unforgiving. We climbed those relentless stairs in the dark at first, and then in a mist of fresh clouds as the sun began to rise. Small flowers began to blossom with the new day and the jungle came alive with the sounds of birds and streams of small waterfalls. Short of breath and exhausted we arrived at the top. Unfortunately we did not beat the buses there, but the sense of accomplishment we felt more than compensated for this. After entering, an emotion that can only described as spiritual overcame me as I stood overlooking the misty Incan ruins assembled against the odds in the lush cloud forest of greenery and impossibility. We wandered through the stone wonderland, picturing the Incas as they once lived and admiring their tenacity for building such a place so far from anything and everything that it was at once everything and anything they could ever need. As the sun began to shine through the windows of ancient stone, the village lit up and the mysterious mist unveiled new perspectives. At one point the sheer beauty of a valley against Waynapicchu, a giant peaking mountain with the ruins on either side and cliff drops below broght me near tears. I found a small window to sit in and look out at the mountains where I wrote and meditated for a while. The silence was a rarity given the immense amount of tourists that pour into Machu Picchu daily, approximately a thousand each day! We returned down the way we had come up, our legs tired and our minds opened. The energy emanating from this mysterious, mountain village was one of a brilliant past, an incredibly intelligent and powerful people, and a tragedy for their demise.

Cusco from San Blas

Plaza de Armas in Cusco
Machu Picchu as the fog began to lift
Early morning mist at Machu Picchu


Sapphire Respite

After an arduous journey from Sucre in the south of Bolivia to La Paz on the chilliest bus ride of my existence, Lake Titicaca´s shores were truly a sight for sore eyes. The impossibly blue water sparkled in undulating currents of splendor against the bright, crisp blue sky. Burnt sienna mountains rose in the distance overpowered by giant glacial peaks that seemed to rise from dense white clouds. We spent a couple of days in Copacabana before setting off on boat to Isla del Sol, the legendary birthplace of Inti, the Incan sun god. We saw Incan ruins, magnificent views, did yoga amidst sheep facing the lake and watched life occur as if frozen in time. The people on the island have no cars, some lack electricity and they spend their time herding donkeys, collecting corn and watching the moon rise. It was refreshing to exist in that moment in time only, not thinking about politics or global events. Our world can be as large or as immediate as we perceive it to be. Rather than thinking about what is going on oceans and miles away, I have found myself truly existing on the current plane, in the geographic speck on the planet that I find myself in at a given moment. We returned from the island to our lovely green hostel where we found ourselves cooking ramen on our small electric stove atop our Lonely Planet book around 1 am. Starving after a couple weeks in Bolivia, we were anxious to move toward Peru, incredibly excited to meet our friend and enjoy some more palatable (and edible) food. Between bus rides in Puno, Peru, we ate tamales steaming in their corn husks and eyed the vast market of fruits we had never seen, streetside cevice, and small speckled eggs carted around with birds in tow. After a long bus ride we arrived in Cusco last night. We´ll spend a few days here enjoying the oldest city in America, admiring Incan walls and Spanish colonial squares before heading off to Machu Picchu and exploring the Sacred Valley.


The beach on the north end of Isla del Sol at sunset

Sleep deprived and sunburned enjoying the sunset in Copacabana

Moon rise over Lake Titicaca

On the boat from Copacabana to Isla del Sol

Just a snippet of the incredible amount of fresh produce at the market in Sucre

Lake Titicaca from Isla del Sol